Welcome to Birdleigh - a blog from The Village Bike Rehearsal Room
Jonathan O’Boyle, Assistant Director on The Village Bike takes us behind closed doors into the rehearsal room.
The Village Bike is a gem of a play. It introduces audiences to Birdleigh, a small village somewhere in middle-England where the characters of John and Becky have a new home. Sounds idyllic? Well, Becky’s pregnant, and her hormones are in hyperdrive, but her husband’s more interested in parenting books than he is in sex and she’s looking elsewhere to satisfy her needs, including developing a serious interest in pornography.
This has naturally meant that sex and pornography are proving hot topics in the rehearsal room. Unconscious innuendos and fits of laughter have not been uncommon and the majority of our conversations always somehow seem to veer back towards sex and porn.
We’ve covered a lot of ground this week, spending much of our time discussing the play in great detail. What makes the characters tick? What are their relationships like and where are they all coming from? The answers are endless and depending on which avenues we choose, so are the possibilities.
What Penelope Skinner, the writer of The Village Bike, does brilliantly is make all the characters so real and entertaining. The play is so well written – hilarious at times and extremely dark and tender at others. She shows us a slice of life that we all secretly wish for, but probably know would be our undoing. Yet as the character Oliver says, we all seem addicted to ‘house porn’ – we all want the dream without actually realising what that might entail.
It’s difficult not to love the characters we’ve met in this play though and as we’ve learned more about them, we’ve discovered that they really couldn’t be more familiar – as you’ll discover when we open on Thursday 13 September. In fact, I find it strange to leave the rehearsal room, commute to the small Derbyshire village where I’m currently living and still see the characters vividly alive beside me in the village shop!
Approaching a new play is rather exciting and we’ve had a great first few weeks. The decisions we make in the rehearsal room are new and fresh as very few people have had an opportunity to get their hands on this play. This is The Village Bike’s regional premiere and only its second outing – having been seen last year at London’s Royal Court. It seems more exciting now being in Sheffield where the ideas and setting of the play seem more suited to a community outside London.
There is something for everyone in The Village Bike and we can’t wait to get up on our feet and see where it takes us. One thing’s for sure; this ride will be anything but dull!